President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE’s campaign on Sunday previewed the lines of attack it will take against former Vice President Joe Biden if he’s the Democratic nominee, saying it will cast him as unfit for office while making the case that he’s ideologically aligned with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Congress must address the looming debt crisis MORE (I-Vt.), the self-described democratic socialist.
In a conference call with reporters, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the campaign would make the case that Biden’s past support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had resulted in thousands of plant closures in the battleground states that could determine the outcome of the 2020 election.
“The myth of Joe Biden’s blue collar appeal will be exposed if he’s the nominee,” Murtaugh said. “He’s got a very serious problem in those states … He voted for NAFTA; he was Obama’s chief cheerleader on the Trans-Pacific Partnership … those are notorious job killers ... Joe Biden has serious vulnerabilities on those issues.”
Sanders has taken the same line of attack against Biden. The Sanders campaign has warned that Trump will use the issue of trade to convince voters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania that the Democrats are disconnected from the economic interests of ordinary Americans.
If the entire 2016 electoral college map remains the same but Democrats win back Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, they’ll reclaim the White House.
The Biden campaign has previously said that Trump’s trade war with China has been enormously harmful to the farming and manufacturing industries across the Midwest and Rust Belt states.
“[Trump has] proven that he’s terrified of looking Joe Biden in the eye, even going as far as to get himself impeached when he was caught trying to coerce a foreign country into lying about the Vice President,” said Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates. “But all Donald Trump accomplished with that failed effort was to prove that Joe Biden is the only candidate who can overcome and defeat the president’s smear machine. They’re right to be panicked.”
The Trump campaign also said Sunday that it would cast Biden’s efforts to build on ObamaCare through a public option as tantamount to a government takeover of the health insurance industry.
The Trump campaign described Biden’s support for a public option as a slow-motion version of Sanders’s proposed Medicare for All, and said that the end result would be the same – the elimination of the private health care plans.
“They’re running on big government socialism, that’s what it’s called,” Murtaugh said. “On health care, what they’re talking about is a government takeover of the entire system … Joe Biden’s use of a public option is a fig leaf and just another way to get to the same result."
Democrats eager to build on ObamaCare have proposed a public option they say will preserve private insurance while allowing people in ObamaCare plans and employers to choose new Medicare-based insurance plans if they want to.
The Trump campaign on Sunday argued that the public option would “crowd out private insurance” and kick 180 million people off their employer-sponsored plans.
“Vice President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE was instrumental to making the Affordable Care Act a reality, and he’s running to build on it with a Medicare-like public option,” said Bates. “Donald Trump has defined his presidency by trying to take healthcare away from millions of families and gut coverage for preexisting conditions just so he can give the rich yet another tax cut.”
The Trump campaign is also raising questions about Biden’s fitness for office, saying his flubbed remarks on the campaign trail will be a major liability for him.
"He gets up on stage and confuses what state he’s in,” Murtaugh said. “He thinks Margaret Thatcher is still the British prime minister. He can’t pull Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBill Maher, Isiah Thomas score over the NFL's playing of 'Black national anthem' Democrats confront 'Rubik's cube on steroids' White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE’s name out of the air. He’s a bad candidate. He’s never been good at this. I’m not sure why anyone thought he’d be good this time around.
"There will be plenty of ammunition if he turns out to be our opponent," he added.
The Trump campaign has been circulating videos online of Biden misspeaking or appearing confused on the campaign trail.
Biden’s supporters have cast the criticism as cruel and bullying, noting that Biden dealt with a stutter when he was young.
“Donald Trump thinks that windmills cause cancer, that climate change is a 'Chinese hoax,' calls himself a 'stable genius,' and has offered the groundbreaking insight that hurricanes are 'wet from the standpoint of water,' and told people it was fine to go to work when infected with coronavirus, which he's botching the federal response to right now,” a senior adviser to the Biden campaign said. “If he really wants to go there, okay. Bing bong.”
But the new lines of attack indicate how nasty the 2020 contest is likely to be, no matter who the Democrats nominate.
Biden currently has a delegate lead over Sanders in the race to become the Democratic presidential nominee after winning 10 of 14 states on Super Tuesday, making him the undisputed frontrunner and the likeliest to win the nomination, according to most political analysts.
Sanders is still competitive, however, and is banking on a strong showing in the Michigan primary on Tuesday to turn things around.
The Trump campaign said that no matter who emerges from that fight, they’d cast the Democratic nominee as “two sides of the same coin.”
“For more than a year the Bernie-AOC wing has been calling the policy shots,” Murtaugh said. “We are now down to these two: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. They agree on almost all of the important issues they’ve been talking about since the beginning of this race.
"Regardless of which comes out the other end, they’re running on big government socialism, that’s what it’s called.”